Picture this. You’re sitting down to get a tattoo from a new artist and you’re already feeling nervous because the needle’s about to hit your skin. Then you learn that the artist you’re putting your trust into didn’t start drawing until last week. You’d likely be pretty alarmed and would yeet yourself out of there. However, Snuffy was born to tattoo. Raised by an artist and a surgeon, he has a knack for design as well as detail, coming into the industry with a genetic leg up. Now, a little more than three years later, he’s taken tattooing by storm—establishing his own art collective and inking some of comedy’s finest. But as far as he sees it, this is just the beginning.
How did you get into art?
I didn’t begin drawing until about a week prior to tattooing. Sure, I doodled and whatever, but until then, if someone asked if I could draw I would say no. In hindsight, I would say the arts were always part of my life. I played guitar and other instruments growing up and I was always finding creative outlets. As a kid, I apprenticed for a Frank Lloyd Wright-style design build firm. I learned to design rooms, make models, draft blueprints and then go in the field to build what we designed. My mother is an artist and my father a spine surgeon, so it’s funny that tattooing oddly combines both—a steady hand with attention to detail and creativity.
When did you do your first tattoo and what was that experience like?
My first tattoo was a crescent moon. It was something I could do in 10 minutes now, but it probably took 1.5 hours. I didn't know what I was doing but I had a fucking blast. I’d just graduated from YouTube University and I felt I was ready for some small stuff.
Take us through the apprenticeship you did with Oscar Akermo. What was the most valuable thing you learned from him?
When I began tattooing, I didn’t tell Oscar I was tattooing. I wanted to see if this thing was really for me, and I like surprising people. I reached a point where I couldn't hide it from him anymore, because he would try and come hang out and I would be tattooing. Eventually about a month into it, I showed him my “portfolio” of work. He was shocked how aggressively I dove in, not because I was making anything spectacular. At that point, he sort of took me under his wing. And by “under,” I mean he let me be near his wing. He was working full time and had his own life, so it wasn’t your traditional apprenticeship. It was more like, “You’re on your own, kid, but if you need anything, call me!” To him, I owe a lot. The time we spent as friends gave me tremendous insight on how to be a well-rounded artist. Oscar is a maverick in anything he touches. We share an addiction to the things we love. Aside from technical application, the most valuable thing I learned from him was to give a fuck, every single time.
When did you start tattooing in your style and how has it evolved over time? I like to think that my style is always evolving. Looking back I would say the first tattoo in my style would have been five months into tattooing—the Einstein tattoo in May 2018. Luckily, my art has evolved in a beneficial way for my clients and for my creativity. I made it a point to use negative space, cover larger areas and be succinct with my messaging. Having paid thousands of dollars for tattoos that cover a 3”x3” space and leaving the shop feeling grateful but defeated, I remember thinking, this will cost me over $1,000,000 to be covered. So, I like covering larger areas, I like using weird intricate elements. I make sure I never put things in a tattoo that don’t have meaning. Seldom will you find clouds or shading to fill space. The goal is to make the wearer and viewer of the tattoo feel something when they see it. What keeps my style evolving is that I'm addicted to the new. While there are elements of repetition in my work, I am always looking for new subject matter because it feels like cheating when I reuse. Ultimately, what keeps it honest is that I design every tattoo for myself. If my client passes on a design, chances are I will get it on myself.
When did you start tattooing Pete Davidson and what are some of your favorite tattoos that you’ve done on him?
I started tattooing Pete around June or July of 2019. Most of my favorite tattoos on him I never posted. I either got a shitty photo of them at 5 a.m. or [didn’t post] out of respect for his privacy. The tattoo down his spine and the hanging photo frames around his leg are probably my favorites. Also, the piece I did with a woman and seven knives exploding out of a boy's blurry face.
Take me through how you created Morwin's Office.
Morwin Shmookler is a guy that offered to buy one of my buildings years ago. In 2018, I had part of the A$AP Mob living in my studio, then they started calling me their lawyer and their accountant. So I said, “If that's what I am, I need a name. Call me Morwin Shmookler.” Fast-forward to September 2020. I had all the infrastructure for a studio. I had a space, an apprentice, managers, assistants… but I never wanted a proper studio. I knew from years of running businesses that once I open a shop, my attention to art gets diverted to business. I was convinced otherwise by my managers. Thus far, I’ve been proven wrong. I never want to leave this shop, the creative energy, the people that come through, it’s a magnet for the arts and the creative. Tattooing is the meat and potatoes here, but the appetizers, specials, desserts and cheese plates are fucking killer.
Where do you hope to take this brand?
The Morwin's brand is a creative house that we just happen to tattoo in. Everything is a creative endeavor. We just did a capsule collection, we have a few brands in discussion for creative direction, and I have my fine art practice coming out. A lot of music gets made here. Shit, we even shot a movie trailer.
What advice would you give to tattooers looking to build their brand outside of tattooing?
They need to decide if they are just making tattoos or if they are actually artists. If you’re an artist, be that. Explore other mediums, be outgoing. Do everything, don’t box yourself in. And, most importantly, only do shit if your soul is in it. Do everything with all you’ve got. That way if it fails, it’s not for lack of effort.